Becky Creek, Soft Maple and Hay Creeks Watershed (UC17)
Becky Creek, Soft Maple and Hay Creeks Watershed (UC17)
Becky Creek (2369600)
7.62 Miles
1.24 - 8.86
Natural Community
Natural communities (stream and lake natural communities) represent model results that use predicted flow and temperature based on landscape features and related assumptions. Ranges of flow and temperature associated with specific aquatic life communities (fish, macroinvertebrates) help biologists identify appropriate resource management goals. Wisconsin's Riverine Natural Communities.
Coldwater, Cool-Cold Headwater
Year Last Monitored
This date represents the most recent date of water quality monitoring stored in the SWIMS system. Additional field surveys for fish and habitat may be available subsequent to this date.
2015
Good
 
Rusk
Trout Water 
Trout Waters are represented by Class I, Class II or Class III waters. These classes have specific ecological characteristics and management actions associated with them. For more information regarding Trout Classifications, see the Fisheries Trout Class Webpages.
Yes
Outstanding or Exceptional 
Wisconsin has designated many of the state's highest quality waters as Outstanding Resource Waters (ORWs) or Exceptional Resource Waters (ERWs). Waters designated as ORW or ERW are surface waters which provide outstanding recreational opportunities, support valuable fisheries and wildlife habitat, have good water quality, and are not significantly impacted by human activities. ORW and ERW status identifies waters that the State of Wisconsin has determined warrant additional protection from the effects of pollution. These designations are intended to meet federal Clean Water Act obligations requiring Wisconsin to adopt an 'antidegradation' policy that is designed to prevent any lowering of water quality - especially in those waters having significant ecological or cultural value.
Yes
Impaired Water 
A water is polluted or 'impaired' if it does not support full use by humans, wildlife, fish and other aquatic life and it is shown that one or more of the pollutant criteria are not met.
No

Fish and Aquatic Life

Current Use
The use the water currently supports. This is not a designation or classification; it is based on the current condition of the water. Information in this column is not designed for, and should not be used for, regulatory purposes.
Cold (Class I Trout)
Streams supporting a cold water sport fishery, or serving as a spawning area for salmonids and other cold water fish species through natural reproduction. Representative aquatic life communities, associated with these waters, generally require cold temperatures and concentrations of dissolved oxygen that remain above 6 mg/L. Since these waters are capable of supporting natural reproduction, a minimum dissolved oxygen concentration of 7 mg/L is required during times of active spawning and support of early life stages of newly-hatched fish.
Attainable Use
The use that the investigator believes the water could achieve through managing "controllable" sources. Beaver dams, hydroelectric dams, low gradient streams, and naturally occurring low flows are generally not considered controllable. The attainable use may be the same as the current use or it may be higher.
Cold (Class I Trout)
Streams supporting a cold water sport fishery, or serving as a spawning area for salmonids and other cold water fish species through natural reproduction. Representative aquatic life communities, associated with these waters, generally require cold temperatures and concentrations of dissolved oxygen that remain above 6 mg/L. Since these waters are capable of supporting natural reproduction, a minimum dissolved oxygen concentration of 7 mg/L is required during times of active spawning and support of early life stages of newly-hatched fish.
Designated Use
This is the water classification legally recognized by NR102 and NR104, Wis. Adm. Code. The classification determines water quality criteria and effluent limits. Waters obtain designated uses through classification procedures.
Cold
Streams capable of supporting a cold water sport fishery, or serving as a spawning area for salmonids and other cold water fish species. Representative aquatic life communities, associated with these waters, generally require cold temperatures and concentrations of dissolved oxygen that remain above 6 mg/L. Since these waters are capable of supporting natural reproduction, a minimum dissolved oxygen concentration of 7 mg/L is required during times of active spawning and support of early life stages of newly-hatched fish.

Overview

Becky Creek is a small coldwater brook trout stream located in Rusk County north of the Village of Bruce. Becky Creek’s headwaters are in the Blue Hills and its mouth is at the Chippewa River (figure 1). The lower 1.6 miles of the creek was placed on Wisconsin’s impaired waters (303d) list (figure 2) due to water temperature limitations. This stream segment was placed on the list based on the judgment of a former DNR fish manager for Rusk County, who felt the entire stream length had the potential to be a Class 1 coldwater trout stream. The lower segment is currently identified as supporting a warmwater fish community.

A portion of this lower segment had been heavily pastured for many years and also had a barnyard runoff problem in the past. The barnyard runoff problem was corrected several years ago, and a new landowner is no longer pasturing the streambanks. An assessment of lower Becky Creek was initiated in 2009 to determine if its placement on the 303d list is appropriate and to evaluate its potential for restoration. Drought and beaver dams caused lower Becky Creek to go dry in 2009, so the assessment was continued in 2010.

Date  2011

Author  Craig Roesler

Overview

Becky and Alder Creeks - Both these Class I trout streams are seriously threatened by stream bank pasturing. Both receive direct barnyard runoff (Ernst 1987, 1992). and area fisheries management files describe extensive habitat degradation and have document problems relating to cattle operations, including bank erosion, habitat destruction and nutrient input.

Date  1996

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Becky Creek, Soft Maple and Hay Creeks Watershed (UC17) Fish and Aquatic LifeBecky Creek, Soft Maple and Hay Creeks Watershed (UC17) RecreationBecky Creek, Soft Maple and Hay Creeks Watershed (UC17) Fish Consumption

General Condition

Becky Creek (highway 40 crossing to headwaters) was assessed during the 2018 listing cycle; new biological (fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scores) sample data were clearly below 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. This water is meeting this designated use and is not considered impaired. Biological data indicates that this water is considered in "good" condition for fish and aquatic life.

Date  2017

Author  Ashley Beranek

Impaired Waters

The lower segment of Becky Creek (1.6 miles) should be removed from the 303d list of impaired waters and placed on the “watch” list. It was placed on the impaired waters list based on the professional judgment of a former DNR fish manager, who felt this segment had the potential to be coldwater and support trout.

It appears the lack of coldwater in this segment is due primarily to hydrologic conditions rather than land use practices. In 2009, groundwater discharge to the creek was restricted to the headwaters area in the Blue Hills, upstream of Imalone Road. The creek was rapidly losing water to the ground downstream of there and was completely dry before reaching the STH 40 crossing. Substantial discharge of cold groundwater to a stream is needed to maintain coldwater conditions for trout.

Additional observations of groundwater discharge to the creek should be made in the future during years of more normal precipitation. This would help verify that inadequate groundwater discharge to maintain cold water is a chronic condition.

Fish surveys since 1967 have not found trout present in the lower segment of Becky Creek. This suggests that even in periods of normal precipitation, groundwater discharge is inadequate to produce coldwater conditions there. The current DNR fish manager for Rusk County made the following comments in his 2010 survey report for lower Becky Creek - “The absence of trout in repeated surveys, our observations of instream habitat characteristic of warmwater fish communities, and this station’s proximity to the Chippewa River suggest that the current class 1 trout water designation may not be appropriate or attainable in the segment downstream of hwy. 40. Recommend review of current class 1 trout designation and current listing on CWA 303d listing of impaired waters.”

The formerly pastured area in the creek segment currently listed as impaired is showing signs of natural recovery. Streambanks were quickly revegetated with grasses and herbs once cattle pasturing stopped. Young woody vegetation is appearing and will begin to provide significant shading in several years. Some channel narrowing and point bar expansion were observed between 2009 and 2010.

Some of the very wide pools and steeply banked areas in the formerly pastured area will probably take much longer to improve. This stream section’s potential to only support a warmwater forage fish community does not justify making expenditures to artificially improve the stream channel. Natural scouring and deposition processes should eventually produce channel improvements.

The remainder of the impaired creek segment is located downstream of highway 40. This section of the creek should probably be classified as supporting a warmwater sport fish community.

Date  2011

Author  Craig Roesler

Condition

Wisconsin has over 84,000 miles of streams, 15,000 lakes and milllions of acres of wetlands. Assessing the condition of this vast amount of water is challenging. The state's water monitoring program uses a media-based, cross-program approach to analyze water condition. An updated monitoring strategy (2015-2020) is now available.

Compliance with Clean Water Act fishable, swimmable standards are located in the Executive Summary of Water Condition in 2016 . See also 'monitoring' and 'projects'.

Reports

Recommendations

Monitor or Propose 303(d) Listing
Becky creek was listed as impaired in 1998(e. coli) and 2004 (sediment) but since that time, the stream has been found to meet or exceed expectations and is proposed for delistingin 2012.
Monitor or Propose 303(d) Listing
Becky Creek assessment in 2009 included the following components: - Continuous temperature monitoring at a site upstream of the impaired segment and a site within the impaired segment. - Fish community surveys of a 300 meter section within the impaired segment, and a 300 meter section upstream of the impaired segment. - Macroinvertebrate samples at a site upstream of the impaired segment and a site within the impaired segment. - Stream width and depth measurements of the upper 634 meters of the impaired segment, and an 823 meter segment upstream of the impaired segment. - A count of woody stems near the streambank in the upper 634 meters of the impaired segment (the formerly pastured area). - Photos of the stream channel in the impaired segment at 6 locations in 2009 and 2010. - Streamflow measurements at multiple sites on one date to assess the distribution of groundwater inputs. Other existing data for Becky Creek was also reviewed and incorporated into this report.
TMDL Implementatoin
In the management plan for the priority watershed project, stream bank pasturing, county and township road maintenance and construction, riparian habitat degradation, upland sediment delivery, manure and nutrient runoff are identified in the watershed plan as sources of pollutants impacting Becky Creek. This information will be used for implementation of the TMDL.
TMDL Approved (USEPA)
TMDL for sediment and temperature was approved in 9/05
TMDL Approved (USEPA)
Becky Creek TMDL Approved

Standards Details

This stream is a Class I trout water per NR 102.11 (1) (a) and is an exceptional resource water.

Date  2005

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Management Plans

Wisconsin's Water Quality Standards (State Administrative Code NR 102) provide qualitative and quantitative goals for waters that are protective of Fishable, Swimmable conditions. Waters that do not meet water quality standards are considered impaired and restoration actions are planned and carried out until the water is once again fishable and swimmable.

The management goals for Becky Creek are to ensure that the stream meets its potential as a cool (cold transiton) headwater stream. As a class I trout water and exceptional resource water, there are expectations for high quality fish and aquatic life. A TMDL for Becky Creek was prepared by WDNR and approved by the USEPA. This report is available under the "conditions" tab.

A site near the mouth of Becky Creek was monitored in 1995 and 2000. Both assessments indicated excessive bank erosion and fair fish habitat. Becky Creek at this location has widened and become shallower due to the bank erosion and sediment deposition. The shallow waters coupled with turbid conditions are elevating water temperatures.

Total phosphorus and suspended solids increased by 50 percent from a site only a mile downstream. The stream bank erosion is likely due to a combination of cattle access and flood flow scouring.

Management goals include reducing or eliminating stream bank pasturing and flashy runoff events that result in greater magnitude of flows and greater scouring and erosion.

Date  2011

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Monitoring

Monitoring the condition of a river, stream, or lake includes gathering physical, chemical, biological, and habitat data. Comprehensive studies often gather all these parameters in great detail, while lighter assessment events will involve sampling physical, chemical and biological data such as macroinvertebrates. Aquatic macroinvertebrates and fish communities integrate watershed or catchment condition, providing great insight into overall ecosystem health. Chemical and habitat parameters tell researchers more about human induced problems including contaminated runoff, point source dischargers, or habitat issues that foster or limit the potential of aquatic communities to thrive in a given area. Wisconsin's Water Monitoring Strategy was recenty updated.

Grants and Management Projects

Monitoring Projects

Monitoring Studies

Assessment of Becky Creek in 2009 included the following components:

- Continuous temperature monitoring at a site upstream of the impaired segment and a site within the impaired segment.
- Fish community surveys of a 300 meter section within the impaired segment, and a 300 meter section upstream of the impaired segment.
- Macroinvertebrate samples at a site upstream of the impaired segment and a site within the impaired segment.
- Stream width and depth measurements of the upper 634 meters of the impaired segment, and an 823 meter segment upstream of the impaired segment.
- A count of woody stems near the streambank in the upper 634 meters of the impaired segment (the formerly pastured area).
- Photos of the stream channel in the impaired segment at 6 locations in 2009 and 2010.
- Streamflow measurements at multiple sites on one date to assess the distribution of groundwater inputs.

Other existing data for Becky Creek was also reviewed and incorporated into this report.

Date  2011

Author  Craig Roesler

Monitoring Studies

WDNR monitoring surveys and sampling results from the Becky Creek subwatershed indicated that sediment was washed into the creek, degrading the habitat for the biotic (specifically, the trout) community. Sediment in the streams covers the stream bed, which can hinder spawning, reduce potential food sources for the trout, and can reduce the water volume in pools which can serve as a haven for trout in low flow periods or during hot weather.

At the time, there are no point sources on the waterbody segment. WDNR believes that the major sources of sediment to the creek are run-offs from pasture and croplands, streambank erosion from spring runoffs, and streambank erosion caused by trampling by livestock. These sedimentation sources were identified based on sampling conducted at a total of four sites in two separate sampling rounds, the first in 1995 and the second in 2000 (pages 2-3 of the final TMDL submittal).

Date  2005

Author  Nicole Clayton

Watershed Characteristics

Becky Creek is located in the Soft Maple and Hay Creeks watershed which is 176.75 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (55%), agricultural (19%) and a mix of wetland (15%) and other uses (12%). This watershed has 266.14 stream miles, 1,050.89 lake acres and 14,185.57 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked High for runoff impacts on streams, Low for runoff impacts on lakes and High for runoff impacts on groundwater and therefore has an overall rank of High. This value can be used in ranking the watershed or individual waterbodies for grant funding under state and county programs.However, all waters are affected by diffuse pollutant sources regardless of initial water quality. Applications for specific runoff projects under state or county grant programs may be pursued. For more information, go to surface water program grants.

Natural Community

Becky Creek is considered a Coldwater, Cool-Cold Headwater under the state's Natural Community Determinations.

Natural communities (stream and lake natural communities) represent model results that use predicted flow and temperature based on landscape features and related assumptions. Ranges of flow and temperature associated with specific aquatic life communities (fish, macroinvertebrates) help biologists identify appropriate resource management goals. Wisconsin's Riverine Natural Communities.

Cool (Cold-Transition) Headwaters are small, usually perennial streams with cold to cool summer temperatures. Coldwater fishes are common to uncommon (<10 per 100 m), transitional fishes are abundant to common, and warm water fishes are uncommon to absent. Headwater species are abundant to common, mainstem species are common to absent, and river species are absent.

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